Best Practices for Mobile Employee Communication and Engagement
In 2019, IABC’s Khyla Flores interviewed our Director of Client Success and Strategy Amy Jenkins to discuss mobile employee communications. In 2021, we find that many of the mobile employee communication trends that were relevant then are still relevant now. There is, specifically, a lot of work left to do to support the deskless workforce.
Q&A with Amy Jenkins
IABC Associate Editor Khyla Flores recently spoke to the director of client strategy with theEMPLOYEEapp, Amy Jenkins. Amy says employees want access to information and feel connected to what is happening within the organization. And that mobile technology can help achieve that connection:
“With the proliferation of mobile technology over the past few years, we recognized the opportunity that it could offer not only to help us distribute targeted information to employees instantaneously, but also to go beyond ‘need-to-know’ information and create engaging and accessible content that our employees truly desired.”
How has technology transformed the digital workplace?
Amy: Whether we’re talking about the way companies are now organized, increasing work-from-home policies and opportunities, various platforms for employers to communicate with their employees, or peer-to-peer chats, tech has been at the forefront of it all. The use of technology and evolution of a digital workplace is key to companies staying connected to their employees.
Technology has also been a catalyst in changing the way we consume and distribute content in both a personal as well as a professional capacity. As a society, we have increasingly come to expect instant access to information, and the advent of social media has allowed us to do that on a mass scale. In some ways, the workplace is still behind in that sense—with many using email, posters, printed material and dated methods for their internal communication. And more often than not, companies are more concerned with making news known to investors and news networks before sharing that information directly with employees.
Moving forward, companies will need to leverage the right technology to create the same dynamic in the workplace. And to meet the expectations of employees to receive news almost instantly, while remaining efficient and effective.
What are the typical challenges and roadblocks employers face when engaging employees, especially their deskless workers?
Amy: Deskless employees are the 2.7 billion-plus workers across the globe who typically don’t have access to a computer, corporate email or internal intranet—seen predominantly in major industries like healthcare, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. Because of the nature of their job functions and access restrictions, one of the major challenges is getting relevant, timely and important information into the hands of those workers to make sure they are best informed, empowered and engaged.
New technology solutions such as mobile apps can play a significant role in eliminating these issues, since nearly everyone has a smartphone today.
It’s key for communicators (i.e. internal communication professionals or HR leaders who handle corporate communication) to determine how to entice employees to use those solutions and actually consume the content. This means combining the “need-to-know” information (like benefits and payroll) with the “nice-to-knows” (employee news or company wins), to help make sure employees are excited to log in to the app and are informed when they do, so that they keep returning to the platform.
How can mobile positively impact an organization’s digital workplace strategy? Why is it so important?
Amy: Mobile is a more cost-effective solution to engage all employees—whether deskless or desk-bound—with insights. Through mobile, communicators can quickly send push notifications to all employees or targeted groups with a desired message. And they can upload documents within one centralized and accessible hub, which eliminates the time and expense of print/email.
For manufacturing workers, retail workers, or drivers on the road, this can be a game changer. While previous technologies have left these employees behind, mobile can help them feel more valued. And this drives feelings of inclusion by connecting them with peers and leaders, and have a direct impact on productivity and satisfaction that employers are after, but aren’t necessarily achieving in this regard.
What are three best practices you would suggest to HR/communication leaders looking to implement mobile technology into their communication strategies to enhance the employee experience?
Amy: One of the mistakes communication and HR leaders make is assuming they know what content people want to receive. First and foremost, communicators should identify who their audience is and what content will resonate the most. You can achieve this by leveraging surveys or focus groups to get in front of employees and better understand them.
Once the content is decided on, it’s also important to consider the strategy behind distributing it. And the cadence or frequency in which it will be shared. While certain tactics can work through email, such as PDFs and long-form text, a mobile app enables different opportunities such as video, shorter posts, or even podcasts. By redefining the content strategy to mirror your employees’ consumption preferences and habits, engagement will improve. And with it, the employee experience.
A final best practice is about leadership buy-in. Adoption can be low sometimes. Especially for deskless workers who don’t want to be burdened by something they might view as unnecessary or too complex. Getting the C-suite, frontline managers, and district or regional team members excited about the technology and to serve as ambassadors or evangelists of the platform will only help drive home the importance of adoption with employees. To truly be successful in using mobile communication to increase employee engagement and ultimately productivity, leaders have to show they are invested in it. And that they see the value it adds to the overall employee experience.
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